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U.S. Office of Civil Rights to Investigate Anti-Semitism at UC Santa Cruz

Just weeks after a former student sued the University of California at Berkeley for ignoring campus violence against Jewish students, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has opened an investigation into anti-Semitism at the University of California at Santa Cruz, according to the Institute for Jewish and Community Research (IJCR):

The [Office of Civil Rights] complaint describes a campus environment in which Jewish students feel harassed and intimidated. University-sponsored events vilify Israel while professors openly express hostility toward the Jewish state and its supporters. Rossman-Benjamin adds that “no other … group on campus has been subjected … to such hostile and demonizing criticism.”

Kenneth L. Marcus, a former OCR chief who now runs the anti-Semitism initiative at the IJCR (and a COMMENTARY contributor), said that the case is significant for a number of reasons. “First, it is opened just as International Apartheid Week activities are being held around the world and illustrates the potential ramifications of extremist protest activities. Second, it follows right on the heels of a federal lawsuit alleging similar problems at the University of California Berkeley just a few days before and may illustrate a broad trend,” he said, according to the organization’s press release.

He also noted that it’s “only the second major systemic anti-Semitism case that OCR has opened” and is “the first major case to follow OCR’s new campus anti-Semitism policy and may demonstrate whether OCR means what it says about its commitment to addressing hate and bias in federally funded higher education programs.”

Another University of California chapter, at Irvine, is also dealing with a related case. Eleven members of the Muslim Student Association are being charged with unlawfully disrupting a speech after they attempted to shout down Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren last February.

In addition to addressing the hostile atmosphere against Jewish students within the University of California system, these cases will hopefully also expose the connection between anti-Semitism and certain forms of anti-Zionism.



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